Rosita Hurtado

Rosita Hurtado shares how she transformed a childhood passion into a successful design export

Rosita Hurtado is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who’s known for creating the fashion brand Rosita Hurtado and Rosita Hurtado Bridal. She is also the founder of Rosita Hurtado Menswear, Ixoye, Rosita Hurtado Shoes, and the perfume La Rose by Rosita Hurtado.

An accomplished designer with a career spanning 37 years, her work has been featured across the globe at events such as New York Fashion Week, Miami Fashion Week, and Los Angeles Fashion Week, and more and worn by stars such as  Eva Longoria, Lucia Mendez, Lupita Ferrer, Gloria Trevi, and Ximena Duque. 

As a Latina designer and part of Fashion Designers of Latin America (FDLA), Rosita’s work draws inspiration from her cultural roots and heritage, blending Latin American tradition with modern fashion. 

Rosita Hurtado

Fashion designer and entrepreneur, Rosita Hurtado. (Photo courtesy Rosita Hurtado)

From homemade fashion shows to professional runways

For as long as she can remember, Rosita has lived in the world of fashion and design. Born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, her early years were filled with fabric and sewing as she watched her seamstress aunts work at their shops. Her mother was also a natural designer, creating homemade clothes for Rosita. With these teachers in her life, Rosita grew up watching and learning the craft of sewing and design that would eventually become her life’s passion. 

“At seven years old I was making garments for my friends and putting on fashion shows on the patio at my home,” Rosita recounted. 

This passion for fashion and design that began in childhood has since taken her around the world. At the age of 18, Rosita had the opportunity to travel to Brazil where she studied design at Yocanda Atelier in Porto Alegre Brazil. Later, she continued her studies in Paris, France at the Dominique school, before moving to London, England to study industrial pattern making. Finally, Rosita completed her education at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, USA.

Designs by Rosita Hurtado. (Photo source: IxoyeUSA)

Following her desire to create, Rosita went on to launch various professional clothing lines. Her collections have appeared internationally alongside accomplished designers such as Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Tommy Hillfiiger, Alexandre Mac Queen. As a seasoned designer with a career spanning nearly four decades, her work as appeared at Paris Pret a porte, Fashion Week of the Americas, Texvecal in Santiago de Chile, Puerto Rico Fashion Week, Ecua moda, Los Angeles Fashion Week, Bolivia Fashion Parade, New York Fashion Week and more. 

However, like most entrepreneurs who have found success, the road was not always easy. In her long career, Rosita has faced her share of challenges and obstacles but she has always persevered with a positive attitude overcoming anything in her way. As a young designer, she went from small business owner to successfully expanding to become a top business in Bolivia. Then she moved to the USA to start anew. Starting from zero in a new country where she knew nobody was an incredible challenge but also a crucial learning experience for the entrepreneur. She put in the work, began networking and promoting herself, doing interviews, anything she could to advance her business. Rosita’s love and passion for design fueled her with the perseverance to overcome her obstacles. 

Rosita Hurtado

Rosita shares her advice on overcoming career obstacles. (Photo courtesy Rosita Hurtado)

The lesson she learned, and that she hopes others will carry with them, is this: Know that nothing in life is easy, everything comes with sacrifice, but if you have a focus and drive and put in the work, you will get through anything and accomplish your goals. 

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Weaving stories of Latin American culture into garments 

One goal that guides Rosita’s work, is showcasing the beauty of Latin America through her garments. Rosita’s designs often blend vibrant colors and fabrics to create pieces that tell a story. Her collection, Viva México, is one example of this, blending urban casual with Latin American culture. The line was inspired by some of Mexico’s most important figures and monuments, bringing culture, history, and tradition together in stunning garments. 

“It is an urban casual collection with a cultural purpose,” said Rosita describing the collection IxoyeUSA. “Inspired by four icons of Mexican history: Frida Kahlo, Maria Felix, Cantinflas and Juan Gabriel, and also in the architecture of Mexico.” 

The collection, which includes tops, skirts, accessories, and more, was first presented during Bolivian Fashion Week in the Dominican Republic and is now available throughout various shops in Acapulco, Cancun and Playa del Carmen, as well as online through IxoyeUSA.


Viva Mexico, Angel de la Independencia skirt. (Photo source: IxoyeUSA)

“I created the Ixoye line, a casual urban fashion with cultural purpose which is being recognized worldwide for its originality, to show the world through the clothing Latin American culture,” said Rosita on

Her recent 2021 collection, featured at New York Fashion Week, is another symbolic collection. Named “Arcoíris” –Rainbow in Spanish– the collection is the perfect symbol for the year following a global pandemic. Focusing on vibrant and sparkling garments featuring the main colors of the rainbow, Rosita described the collection as representing “hope and renewal.” 

As a seasoned designer, Rosita shares her advice with other young and aspiring women looking to venture into the vibrant world of fashion or longing to start their own venture. 

The first step, she says, is knowing what you want. From a young age she knew she wanted to work with fabric and design like her aunts and mother. Find what’s calling out to you. Then, get an education in that field. Learn everything you can. Get practical hands-on experience as well. This is so important, especially in an industry such as fashion where there are so many avenues to pursue from designing to merchandising and event planning. Finally, follow your passion and love what you do. 

Gender washing: seven kinds of marketing hypocrisy about empowering women

At a time of so much focus on how women are held back and treated unfairly, corporations spend multiple millions telling us what they are doing to empower women and girls. When this makes them seem more women-friendly than they really are, it’s known as gender washing.

empowering women, women empowerment

Gender washing: seven kinds of marketing hypocrisy about empowering women (Photo by Natalie Hua on Unsplash)

Gender washing comes in different varieties, and some can be easier to spot than others. To help identify them, it can be useful to look at the decades of research on corporate greenwashing – that better known variant related to climate change.

Inspired by a 2015 paper that identified seven varieties of greenwashing, I have published a new paper that classifies seven kinds of questionable corporate claims about empowering women and girls.

1. Selective disclosure

When corporations publicise improvements in, say, female boardroom representation, or the gender pay gap, while omitting contradictory or inconvenient information, it’s known as selective disclosure.

For example, pharma group Novartis frequently features on Working Mother magazine’s annual list of the 100 best companies to work for, via an application highlighting the progress it has made in employment practices towards women. Novartis also proudly cites its support for Working Mother, per the tweet below. Yet as recently as 2010, the corporation lost the then largest gender pay, promotion and pregnancy discrimination case ever to go to trial.

2. Empty gender policies

Some companies take initiatives to raise women’s voices internally which, in reality, have little impact. For example, “women’s networks” aim to increase female employees’ confidence and help them build leadership skills through networking events and mentoring schemes. But critics argue that such networks are frequently ignored, and don’t address the underlying causes of discrimination or engage men in efforts to tackle institutional sexism.

One study from 2007 found that the members of one company’s women’s network feared it might actually damage their career prospects because at the time, it was ridiculed by male colleagues as a forum for “male-bashing” and exchanging recipes.

3. Dubious labelling

The promotional placement of the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon by brands with products containing known carcinogens or other arguably risky ingredients is an example of this third kind of gender washing. There are examples involving makeup, alcoholic drinks and even pesticides.

The pink ribbon can also gender wash the objectification of women. For example, US bar chain Hooters has built its entire brand around waitresses with voluptuous breasts and skimpy clothing. In the company logo, the two Os are replaced by the eyes of an owl, symbolising breasts to be stared at, wide-eyed. Yet, once a year for breast cancer awareness month, the eyes are replaced by pink ribbons as Hooters invites customers to “give a hoot” for breast cancer awareness. Staring is thus rebranded as caring.

4. Useful partnerships

One way in which a corporation’s image could be gender-washed is to associate with a feminist, women’s or girls’ organisation through funding or some other assistance. The corporation gets to place its logo on the organisation’s marketing materials, potentially distracting from practices elsewhere.

For example, Dove has partnered with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts on a teaching resource aimed at helping girls to question dominant beauty standards that damage their self-esteem. This is despite the beauty industry – of which Dove is part – perpetuating those standards to sell products.

5. Voluntary codes

When rights abuses emerge in global supply chains – often most affecting female workers in the global south – there are often demands for tighter regulation of corporate behaviour. One way for corporations to respond and potentially deflect such demands is by creating voluntary codes of practice. Their very voluntariness is presented by corporations as evidence of a commitment to empowering workers – particularly women.

Voluntary codes rarely lead to meaningful improvements. For example, when the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013, over 1,000 garment factory workers died, some 80% of them women. In the aftermath, the voluntary Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was established and promoted by western retailers such as Walmart as improving safety and empowering female factory workers. Yet crucially, there were no legally binding commitments to prevent another disaster, and the alliance was later criticised by activists and researchers for not improving conditions quickly enough.

6. Changing the narrative

Corporations can position themselves as global leaders on issues where they have previously been found wanting. For example in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nike was dogged by claims of child labour, sexual and physical abuse among workers at supplier factories, 90% of whom were female.

Nike’s response included establishing a division of corporate responsibility and setting up the Nike Foundation. One of the foundation’s flagship campaigns was the Girl Effect, launched in 2008 to persuade global elites to invest in girls’ education in the global south.

The campaign quickly went viral, and was soon partnering with the UK’s Department for International Development on programmes to empower girls in the global south. Nike had gone from a brand tarnished by accusations of child labour and exploitation to a trusted partner in international efforts to promote girls’ rights.

7. Reassuring branding

Chiquita Banana, the famous logo of Chiquita Brands Corporation, might give shoppers in the global north the impression of buying their bananas from a happy, Latina market woman cheerfully selling her wares.

gender washing, branding,

Photo by Rich Smith on Unsplash

Yet feminist scholars have documented the long history of Chiquita – formerly the United Fruit Company – exploiting women on banana plantations in Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes past cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, exposure to harmful chemicals, and violations of childcare and maternity rights.

Does all of this matter? If corporations want to take up the cause of gender equality, is that so bad? It is true that some women and girls do find ways within gender washing campaigns to make gains, but we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

If a corporation’s employment practices, supply chains or products are harmful to women and girls, and it sells more products thanks to gender washing, then this has increased the harm done. That is why it is so important to identify and call out forms of gender washing whenever we see them.The Conversation

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Rosie Walters, Lecturer in International Relations, Cardiff University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Latino population powerhouse: 2020 Census data reveals huge diversity growth

2020 Census data reveals that Latinos account for over half of the country’s population growth in the past decade. 

Latinos are a powerhouse population that are only growing to new heights. In both business and population, recent data shows that Latinos and Hispanics are an integral and vital force with the power to make great shifts in the U.S. economy and political landscape. 

Photo by Roberto Vivancos from Pexels

Earlier this year, the 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business in collaboration with the Latino Business Action Network revealed that the number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34% over the last 10 years compared to just 1% for all other small businesses. Were it not for the growth in the number of Latino-owned firms, the total number of small businesses in the U.S. would actually have declined between 2007 and 2012.

Now, the results of the 2020 Census data reveal similar growth among the U.S. Hispanic population. The overall U.S. population grew by 7.4% over the last decade to reach 331 million. The rate of growth was the slowest since the 1930s. However, just over half of that total growth was due to increases in the U.S. Hispanic population. 

Latinos are a powerhouse population

According to the census data, the Hispanic population reached 62.1 million, or 18.7% of the total population in 2020, compared to 16.4% in 2010 and 12.6% in 2000. In contrast, the U.S. white population alone is shrinking, while people identifying as white in combination with another race has grown by 316 percent. 

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

These changes in population revealed by the 2020 Census will have a great impact on the country’s political landscape. The result of the census will be used to draw new voting districts for next year’s midterm elections. With a growing diverse population, we undoubtedly will begin to see changes in the coming elections as diverse communities will be likely to elect diverse leaders. 

In California, the Hispanic population became the largest in the state in 2020. Currently, more than 39% of Californians identify as Hispanic or Latino, compared to the state’s white population which only amounted to 35% according to the 2020 Census data. 

Census data also revealed a drop in the number of Hispanics who identify as white. In 2010, 26.7 million identified as white, while now only 12.6 million identify as such. 

2020 Census, Latino population

Percentage Distribution of the Hispanic of Latino Population: 2010 and 2020. (Graphic source)

In an article with NBC News, Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said, “Today’s data release from the 2020 Census demonstrates that the Latino community is a huge and increasing part of our nation’s future.”

These numbers will help shape the nation in the years to come. Not only will the census data help redraw voting districts, but these numbers will also be used to divide federal funding to community programs, determine divisions for city council and other boards such as school districts. 

Clarissa Martinez de Castro, vice president of UnidosUS, the country’s largest Latino advocacy group, said that the increase in diversity is the source of the nation’s strength. However, she notes that, “Despite our contributions to the country, the realities of our lives aren’t always recognized and worse, in too many cases, we are actively demonized.” 

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The new data is a reminder of the power the Latino and Hispanic population hold. As the largest growing population, Latinos can no longer be ignored. 

Natalie Diaz, Pulitzer Prize

Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Diaz weaves together Latina and Indigenous identity in poetry collection 

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Natalie Diaz weaves together her Latina and Indigenous identity in a collection of tender, heart-wrenching and defiant poems that are an anthem against erasure of people like herself.

Natalie Diaz, Pulitzer Prize

Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Natalie Diaz’s latest collection is a celebration of Latina and Indigenous identity. (Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Her Pulitzer Prize winning collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, is described by Natalie herself as “a constellation.” Speaking to The Arizona Republic, Natalie continued, describing how like a constellation, her book is “able to pool a lot of different communities together. I, of course, have an Indigenous lens, but yet I think that Indigenous lens is extremely important to non-Indigenous peoples. We’re all fighting for our water. We’re all fighting for this Earth, for one another against injustice.”  

Postcolonial Love Poem is a timely piece that explores various aspects of identity and life as a Latina and Indigenous woman in America today and what it means to love and be loved in an America troubled by conflict and racial injustice.

A defiant act against erasure

Born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, Natalie now lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she is a professor at Arizona State University. She is also actively involved in the preservation of the Mojave language, working with the few remaining elder speakers of the language in an effort to revitalize the language and prevent its erasure. 

Historically, Native and Indigenous cultures, histories, and languages have been erased, silenced, ignored, and rewritten. Natalie’s work aims to shine a light on that erasure and the violence inflicted on Native people. In Postcolonial Love Poem, every body carried in its pages demands to be seen and to “be touched and held as beloveds.” 

Latina and Indigenous identity, Postcolonial Love Poem, Pulitzer Prize, Natalie Diaz

Postcolonial Love Poem explores the nuances of what it means to be a Latina and Mojave Native woman in America today. (Image source: Gray Wolf Press)

“In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality,” her publisher describes. 

Her poetry is a defiant act against the erasure of bodies like hers. She writes, “I am doing my best to not become a museum / of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in and out. // I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.

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Portrait of Natalie Diaz in her studio in Phoenix, AZ on September 14, 2018. (Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

“I think one of the most rewarding things about poetry is poetry has this incredible capacity to hold what is at once painful and also what is joyful,” Natalie says. “It can hold tensions. It can let you not know things. It can let you question things. It can let you even have no language … to express the ways we feel or the ways we’re imagining things.”

Postcolonial Love Poem presents a complex and nuanced perspective on identity, joy, love, and grief while unraveling notions of American goodness, creating something more powerful than hope. A future is built and in these poems, Natalie chooses love. 

Natalie Diaz is also the author of When My Brother Was an Aztec, winner of an American Book Award. She has received many honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a USA fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. She also holds the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University.

Fireside chat with Jose Forteza: Diversity and LGBTQ+ inclusion in media

Condé Nast Senior Editor for Mexico and Latin America for Vogue, GQ and AD, Jose Forteza, sat one-on-one with Fashion Designers of Latin America’s founder, Albania Rosario, during fireside chat at the third annual Latinas in Business Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit, where they discussed the important topic of diversity and inclusion in mainstream media. Touching on body positivity, ethnic and racial inclusion, and LGBTQ+ representation and visibility, their fireside chat delved into how the media can support Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs and be more inclusive of their stories. 

Jose Forteza, diversity and inclusion in media

Condé Nast Senior Editor for Mexico and Latin America for Vogue, GQ and AD, Jose Forteza speaks on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the media.

Born in Havana of Spanish and Cuban descent, José Forteza has lived in Europe, Dominican Republic and the United States. Currently, Forteza is the Senior Editor of Condé Nast (Vogue, GQ and AD) for Mexico and Latin America, and has been in Condé Nast Publications for more than 20 years.

The fascinating creator has explored every aspect of the arts including dance, music and publishing. He is a TV writer, producer and radio host. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award and is a Producer Grammy Award winner.

An expert in the media world, Forteza shared insights on how mainstream media can support Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs, share their stories, and be more inclusive of the diverse multitude of women in our communities. 

Fireside Chat with Jose Forteza on how mainstream media can support women entrepreneurs 

The 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit, held virtually on June 10th, connected women entrepreneurs, business owners, and industry leaders in a powerful, educational experience aimed to give women entrepreneurs the tools they need to grow their businesses and THRIVE! post-pandemic. 

From panels and deep-dive workshops, to our high-powered fireside chat here with Jose Forteza, leaders and experts shared their knowledge and experience to further empower and inspire our community of women entrepreneurs. 

Forteza’s conversation with FDLA’s Albania Rosario touched on the impact of mainstream media and how the media can help to support women entrepreneurs and women-owned brands and businesses to be more inclusive of diversity within the community. 

Albania opened the conversation by asking Jose to speak on the topic of plus size models and the body positivity movement that we have been seeing over the past several years in recent media. 

Albania: The body acceptance among consumers has led several media outlets to feature models with diverse body shapes and sizes. How has the audience reacted to these non-traditional models and how society views the plus size battle in body and health? 

Jose: Well this is something that started, I would say like ten years ago, and now has settled down with very strong, strong, strong acceptance levels from the audience and from the media outlets at the same time….First of all, all the media started showing different size models and ethnic models. At the beginning some outlets were hesitant to do it, but then step by step it’s been increasingly positive. Right now, I would say that, especially for in the case of Vogue Latin America, where I work, it’s nothing out of the usual thing if we include different different size models and different ethnic models, we are just including beautiful women, talented women, and that’s all that matters. 

Missed the conversation? View the full chat below and Subscribe to Latinas In Business on YouTube to catch up on our other 2021 WEES highlights and future videos!   

Inclusivity for LGBTQ+ Latinx in the media 

Jose Forteza and Albania continued their conversation of diversity and inclusion in media by touching on the inclusion of LGBTQ+ Latinx narratives and why this representation is important in the media. 

As many know, June is Pride Month, a time when the LGBTQ+ community comes together in celebration. Often marked by parades, festivals, and concerts across the globe, Pride is about community and visibility, both a celebration but also a movement. The historical roots of Pride is often forgotten beneath the parades and parties, but Pride Month is also a month of remembrance and tribute for those who participated in the Stonewall Riots. 


Why diversity and inclusion in media matters. (Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash)

The Stonewall Riots began on n New York on June 28, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, which resulted in bar patrons, staff, and neighborhood residents rioting onto Christopher Street outside. Among the many leaders of the riots was a black, trans, bisexual woman, Marsha P. Johnson, leading the movement to continue over six days with protests. The message of these protests was a demand for the establishment of places where LGBT+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest.

Following the Stonewall Riots came the first Pride Parade, organized by Brenda Howard as the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade a year after the Stonewall Riots. This eventually morphed into what we now know as the New York City Pride March and was the catalyst for the formation of similar parades and marches across the world.

Pride month reminds us of the struggles LGBTQ+ people have endured just to be able to be themselves in the open without shame or fear. In 1969, the Stonewall Riots fought for the right to gather, to have a community, to feel safe and seen. Similarly, the push for inclusion and representation of LGBTQ+ identities in the mainstream media is a continuation of this fight to be seen and accepted. 

Albania and Jose continued their conversation by discussing how the mainstream media has evolved over recent years to be more accepting and inclusive of all identities and sexualities. 

Albania: How is the media reflecting the LGBTQ+ visibility issue and how inclusive are the outlets being with trans and lesbian women when approaching the subject of empowering women? 

Jose: Well, honestly that has been a slower process. And I wouldn’t be honest if I said that all the media outlets are embracing the diversity in terms of sexual preferences and lifestyle.  Fortunately, most of them, many them–again in our case Conde Nast, Vogue, GQ–we have reached the point where, again, what matters is what a person is able to give society and what a person has to inspire society. It doesn’t matter if they are a member of the LGBTIAQ+ community or not, for us everything is mainstream. For us what should be important is what these people are showing society and what these people are giving to society….Now it’s more important than ever for the media outlets to reflect them all…and show what they can give and set as an example to succeed in society. 

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Jose goes on to discuss how in the past, media outlets were often focused on being one thing, such as a fashion magazine or lifestyle magazine, but now these outlets are simply “platforms” to show society all that is possible and positive for society. Platforms now are celebrating the differences and bringing diverse stories to greater audiences, from body positivity and racial and ethic inclusion to LGBTQ+ visibility. Diversity and inclusion in these platforms helps show others that their stories are important and valuable and that success can be possible for them too.

Alice Rodriguez: Overcoming obstacles and the power to succeed in business and life

The 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit (WEES) was a day full of inspiration and empowerment. With inspiring guest speakers, panels from industry leaders, and interactive deep-dive workshops, the event centered on giving entrepreneurs the tools to THRIVE! post-pandemic. One of the main moments at 2021 WEES was hearing from Keynote Speaker, Alice Rodriguez, Chairwoman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Alice Rodriguez

Keynote Speaker, Alice Rodriguez, Chairwoman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“She is a person who is raising the bar for Latinas in Business and I’m absolutely grateful for her presence here,” said Susana G Baumann, President and founder of Latinas in Business when she introduced Alice.

With over 30 years of extensive banking experience at JP Morgan Chase and positions in business banking, consumer banking, Alice Rodriguez serves a leading role in community engagement initiatives and localization strategies. 

“Congratulations for this wonderful summit, and all the wonderful content you are providing to Latina entrepreneurs is so important,” says Alice Rodriguez while opening her speech. 

Below, Alice shares three key aspects from her presentation to empower YOU to succeed. 

“Lessons learned from my Sheroe”

“Behind every great woman there is another great woman,” Alice begins.

Alice’s great “sheroe” was her mother, Alicia Nuñez Ramírez who had the most impact on her life. 

“This was a woman who came to this country when she was 15 years old,” Alice shares. “My grandfather died when she was 12 years old and my mother came to a family of 12 and it was very difficult for my grandmother to raise all of those children by herself. So she sent her children away to live with another family while my mother ended up living with an aunt in Texas.  She met my father who was from the US and they started our family.” 

Growing up, Alice saw how her mother overcame a lot of adversity. “She had this very strong ability to never get flustered, which I learned from her and I believe she was completely ahead of her time.  She was a strong independent Latina that just did not take a no for an answer and I recognize that I stand on her shoulder. She came here with a middle school education and it didn’t stop her from learning. She taught me everything, how important family is, values, faith, how to create your own success and take a risk. She was always figuring out how to get over those barriers.” 

One of the most important lessons she taught Alice was “‘Life is not fair’ so you can’t sit there and see how things don’t go your way. You have to figure out how to get back or what you need to do in order to change the path that you are currently on,” Alice says. 

She continues, “When I think about my mom and Latinas today… Latinos are making such an impact in this country. According to a Neilsen report, every generation of Latinas are making great progress when it comes to education. For Latinas that are 50 or older, 13% of Latinas have a Bachelor’s Degree. If you are between 35 and 49 that number goes up to 18% and if you are between 25 and 35 years old that number is 19%.” 

Alice Rodriguez’s mother did not read or write. She had a seventh-grade education. Then Alice was the first in her  family to graduate from College. Finally, two days ago Alice’s youngest daughter who’s now 29 graduated from her 3-year residence in John Hopkins. 

“I am a real example of those statistics on the great strides that Latinas are making. It’s not just education, it’s also what we see in politics,” says Alice. “There’s no question that Latinas are making a very big impact in entrepreneurship.”

Alice Rodriguez speaking virtually at the 2021 WEES.

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Amazing statistics on Latino power

“I want to share with you really important statistics that are not shown in the media. Everybody knows we have 61 million Latinos in this country, a number that is growing very fast and the economic activity that Latinos are providing to this country is significant. If we say ‘Latinos are their own country’ it will be the 8th largest in the world. Larger than Italy, South Korea or Brazil. The labor participation for Latinos has been extremely strong.”

Alice continues, “A large number of baby-boomers are retiring every month. If you were a country that didn’t know where your population is going to come from you would be extremely worried.  The good news is Latino participation is growing and this is where I became super optimistic about the real economic power that Latinos have and how we need an equal system.” 

“As we look at Latino-owned businesses in this country, there are 5 million and growing and Latinas are growing 6 times faster than the overall coverage. Which brings me to what I am doing in the Hispanic US Chamber and JP Morgan Chase as the Head of Community Impact. At the Chamber we see this economic power and we know that is real and we are working very hard in what we call the 3 Cs: 

  1. Capital: We recognize that Latino-owned businesses really need to have this access to capital and also the work that we are doing with the administration, with banks is extremely critical. 
  2. The second C is connections. I don’t have to tell this group how many organizations out there are very focused in really engaging minority suppliers and this is a really great opportunity to have all of you prepared to be able to do business at a larger level and so the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is really providing those introductions so those procurement opportunities are available at the Federal level, al the local level and obviously at the corporate level. 
  3. And the third C is Capacity Building; so we are very blessed to have 250 local chambers that we are working very closely every day and we recognize not every chamber has the same capabilities so our ability to build capacity with them has been critical. It includes more webinars, more content, etc.

“In JP Morgan Chase. I had a very long career and what I’m doing today is one of the most impactful assignments I ever had. We have to be sure that we are bringing the power to our local communities, how we can help with that mentoring, with that coaching, with that advising. We are very excited about the programs we put in place and more importantly we believe that this five-year commitment that we made is really going to be an opportunity to provide more access to many Latinas in businesses in this country. 

I want to leave you with a few takeaways

Alice concluded her presentation with a few key takeaways that every entrepreneur and business owner could use to help them grow and THRIVE! in business and in life. 

“Really take care of your financial health,” is Alice’s first recommendation. “Knowing the details of your business and really understanding your own credit and where you are in income perspective. Spend the time. There are lots of resources to help with that.”

“The second is that you have to love a lot of paperwork, if you don’t like it you just have to get over it,” Alice continues. “Be sure that you have the right CPA, that you have an accountant, that you have a lawyer, that you have a banker and more important that you have a relationship with the banker. This is critical and we discovered during this pandemic how critical it was in order to get the resources that were available.” 

Third, is no surprise to any entrepreneur. “Network, network, network. It’s important to keep up with the people that you meet, understanding what their background is because you never know when you are going to need that person. Even if that person can’t help you, they can always connect you to the right person that perhaps can help you.” 

Finally, more important than anything else is self-care. Without taking care of yourself, everything else will unravel. 

“I think as Latinas, as women, we want to do it all,” says Alice. “But we just are human beings like everybody else and if we don’t slow down and really take care of ourselves, physically, mentally we are not going to do anyone any good and we are certainly not going to do our professional lives any good. Take that time. Some people meditate, some people exercise, some people just don’t do anything. Pick whatever works for you but more important, take care of yourself.” 

2021 latina leaders awards

Congrats to all our 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awardees!

Last Thursday, June 10th, Latinas in Business co-hosted the third annual Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit and Latina Leaders Awards, alongside Berkeley College for a day of inspiration, empowerment, and networking as entrepreneurs gained the tools to THRIVE! post-pandemic. 

2021 latina leaders awards

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony honored 12 influential Latina Leaders featured on Latinas in Business this past year.

This year’s unique hybrid event featured virtual panels with industry leaders, inspiring Keynote Speakers, and deep-dive workshops in three key areas: Personal Power, Financial Wellness, and Business Innovation. 

Read the full event recap here

Following the virtual portion of the event was the 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony and reception, broadcasted live from New York City. The beautiful ceremony saw 12 influential Latina Leaders from the past year honored for their success as entrepreneurs and community leaders. 

The stunning Daneida Polanco of Univision, presented the awards alongside Latinas in Business’s CEO and President, Susana G Baumann, in a heartwarming ceremony that gathered and celebrated not only our Latina Leaders, but Latina entrepreneurs everywhere. 

While some of our Awardees were not able to be at the live ceremony due to distance and travel restriction, it was still a touching moment as we honored each Latina Leader for their amazing achievements. For those that were there at our live reception, hugs were all around as guests and speakers took to the podium, many meeting in person only for the first time after a year of virtual communication. 

The “Unstoppable” Latinas in Business Executive Board with Susana G Baumann, President and CEO

We were especially moved by the tribute and memorial to the life of Jessica Asencio delivered by her sister, Shirley, who accepted the Latina Leader Award on the late Jessica’s behalf. Shirley shared a beautiful poem of Jessica’s and reminded us all of Jessica’s warm, loving spirit. Jessica’s life and memory will be remembered always by the Latinas in Business community. 

We also heard from Awardee Maria Noel Vaeza, Regional Director of UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean, in a virtual acceptance video that highlighted the effects COVID-19 has had on women around the world. 

Susana G Baumann with Small Business Champion, Wendy Garcia. 

Receiving the Small Business Champion Award was Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer, NYC Office of the Comptroller Scott Stringer. Wendy has embodied the title of “champion” with her work as Chief Diversity Officer where she is responsible for increasing contracting opportunities for Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). Wendy also leads the Comptroller’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion – a group comprised of national, local, corporate, and government experts seeking to increase supplier diversity in the public and private sectors.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

Guest Speaker Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn alongside Daneida Polanco of Univision.

We then had the honor to welcome Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn as a guest speaker. As Assemblymember of NY and State Committee Woman/District Leader for New York State’s 42nd Assembly District representing Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood and Ditmas Park in Brooklyn she has worked to develop programs and opportunities for minority and women owned small businesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she championed bills to jump start the economy and improve equity for minority and women-owned small business owners. Under her leadership, the number of certified MWBE firms in New York State has more than doubled. The state has also set a goal of utilizing MWBEs for 30% of all state contracts, the highest rate in the nation. It was a great honor to hear her speak and we thank Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn for her support in our event and the beautiful certificates she provided to our Awardees. 

Following the 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony, guests were invited to the live beautiful reception to further connect and celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs. 

It was certainly a night to remember! We look forward to our next event where we will continue to Learn. Connect. Succeed! And THRIVE! 

Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn supports Latina entrepreneurs at 2021 WEES 

Latinas in Business is honored to welcome Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn as a guest speaker at tonight’s 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony as part of the THRIVE! 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit. 

Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit

Assemblywoman, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn is the Assemblymember and State Committee Woman/District Leader for New York State’s 42nd Assembly District representing Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood and Ditmas Park in Brooklyn. She is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), which serves to promote economic diversity in New York State.

A champion for small minority and women owned businesses

Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn is an accomplished leader, a former Wall Street banker, engineer and small business owner who has leveraged her experience in the free market to push public-private partnership initiatives across the state. She has sponsored legislation in the Assembly which reauthorized the MWBE program for five more years under article 15-A; raised the personal net worth cap for MWBE applicants from $3.5 million to $15 million, making more businesses eligible for the MWBE program; increased discretionary purchasing thresholds from $200,000 to $500,000; and created mentorship/workforce development programs as well as a pilot program that expands contracting opportunities for small/MWBE businesses with a total value of up to $20 million. Bichotte Hermelyn has established relationships with the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), Dept. of Design and Construction (DDC), School Construction Authority (SCA) and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY); and all have set MWBE hiring goals. 

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, surrounded by fellow Assemblymembers and members of the Women’s Builders Council, speaks about MWBE legislation and opportunities that exist for women. December 6, 2017 (Image source)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she championed bills to jump start the economy and improve equity for minority and women-owned small business owners. Bichotte Hermelyn hosted a webinar and participated in several panels with MWBE stakeholders to help them navigate the Coronavirus crisis and access resources, including grants and loans, and helped with strategies to reduce the spread of the virus. She provides annually, a platform that promotes networking, education, and resources for existing or potential MWBEs through a series of workshops at the National Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Conference. Under her leadership, the number of certified MWBE firms in New York State has more than doubled. The state has also set a goal of utilizing MWBEs for 30% of all state contracts, the highest rate in the nation. 

Her lifelong commitment to public service

Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn is also incredibly committed to public service. Since her election in 2010 as District Leader, she has used her position to facilitate and sponsor a number of community events in Flatbush, such as the first voter’s forum, which promoted fair elections, voters rights and voting demonstrations with the Board of Elections; the largest candidate forum in Brooklyn; annual senior luncheons; safe streets initiatives; and the largest Brooklyn funding forum to help non-profits learn how to access government funding.

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and other community members gather together for a food distribution at the Flatbush Garden Community Center, June 12, 2020. (Image source)

Her advocacy centers on providing resources on affordable housing and home ownership, financial literacy of her communities, public safety initiatives and better relationships with law enforcement, affordable healthcare, high-quality public and private education, and economic development, especially for individuals seeking to open small businesses. She has lobbied in New York City, Albany and Washington as a District Leader for affordable housing and healthcare, against cuts for special education programs, an increase in the minimum wage, and growth in the small businesses and tech sector.

Now in her fourth term, it is Bichotte Hermelyn’s mission to continue to help those underrepresented and underserved in the business world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, gain access to capital, access mentorship programs and business networks, and get opportunities to develop their business skills.

2021 WEES

Last chance to REGISTER for today’s must-attend event for all entrepreneurs, business owners, and career oriented professionals. Get the tools you need to THRIVE! post-pandemic.

Professionally, Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn has worked in a number of different capacities such as a New York Math teacher in the public school education system; an engineer in the telecommunications industry where she traveled to Japan and China on assignments; and an investment banker in the financial services industry structuring corporate finance deals. Assemblymember Bichotte Hermelyn was an MIT Fellow: Mel King Co-Lab Project. She earned and holds an MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, an MS in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, a BS in Electrical Engineering from SUNY Buffalo, a BS in Mathematics in Secondary Education and a BT in Electrical Engineering both from Buffalo State College.

Latina Leaders Awards,

12 Latina Leaders to be honored at the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards – Twelve inspiring and influential Latina Leaders will be honored at the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit in a hybrid awards ceremony streaming Live from New York City, June 10th at 6:00 PM EDT. 

Latina Leaders Awards,

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards – 12 inspiring Latina Leaders to be honored at the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit.

With THRIVE! as our motto this year, the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit (#2021 WEES) will center on key areas of growth to connect and empower women business owners with tools and insights that will propel business owners and entrepreneurs  forward to THRIVE in the “new normal.” 

The event will feature inspiring guest speakers, various panels with industry leaders, and deep-dive workshops, as well as our signature peer-to-peer networking sessions and post-panel discussion forums.

The hybrid event takes place on June 10, 2021 from 1:30pm to 6:30pm in a Virtual Space, followed by the Latina Leaders Awards ceremony from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Berkeley College’s Mid-Manhattan Campus (by invitation only).

Register now at

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders’ Awards 

This year, we are honoring 12 Latina Leaders from the past year who have been inspirations to us all as entrepreneurs, business owners, and career driven women. Read on to learn a little bit about these influential leaders and check out their full stories here on Latinas in Business!

Alicia Puig, Latina Leader

Leader of May: Alicia Puig

Alicia Puig is the CEO and co-founder of the digital art gallery PxP Contemporary, Director of Business Operations for Create! Magazine, an arts writer, co-author of the book The Complete Smartist Guide, and a regular guest host of The Create! Podcast. She has worked in the arts industry for over ten years both in the US and abroad. Alicia and co-founder, Ekaterina Popova, created PxP Contemporary as a fully digital art gallery and platform that connects collectors with high-quality, affordable artworks. The idea behind PxP was to create a platform that challenges the traditional art gallery model and make the process of buying art a more accessible, digital-friendly experience for both artists and art-lovers. 

Albania Rosario, Latina Leaders Awards

Leader of June: Albania Rosario 

Albania Rosario is the CEO and founder of Fashion Designers of Latin America (FDLA), entrepreneur, and Latinas in Business Executive Board Member. Through FDLA, Albania has brought Latin American designers to the world stage at New York Fashion Week and around the world. In 2020, Albania inspired innovation when FDLA went virtual for the first time for New York Fashion Week in a dynamic digital show that blended streaming and interactive media for a unique digital experience. The same year, Albania launched the fundraising project, “Las Caras Detrás De La Moda En Latino América,” which shined a spotlight on the stories of artists and designers during the pandemic. 

Leader of July: Veronica Sosa

Veronica Sosa is an award-winning International Speaker, Relational Capital Expert, author and entrepreneur. She is a mother, mentor, coach, and publisher and founder of Business Fit International, Business Fit Magazine, and SHE (Seminar and Society for Hispanic Entrepreneurs). Through her various ventures, Veronica is working to help lead Hispanic women entrepreneurs on their professional journeys toward greatness and success. SHE is the first community of its kind in central Europe that brings together like-minded Hispanic women and offers resources, community, mentorship, and special events that help women build their skills as entrepreneurs and business owners and achieve their dreams. 

Jessica K Asencio

Leader of August: Jessica Asencio 

We celebrate the life of Jessica Asencio, who was a Diversity & Inclusion leader at JPMorgan Chase where she was recognized as a Diversity Champion. Jessica was also the founder of the Latino Networks Coalition (LNC). Born in Ecuador and raised in Brooklyn, NYC, Jessica dedicated her life to supporting Latino-Hispanic causes and uplifting their voices in the workplace. Jessica is remembered by friends, family, and colleagues as an extraordinary and passionate leader who left a lasting impact on everyone she met, and a leader who led by example with optimism, strength, devotion, and focus. She is greatly missed but never forgotten. 

Leader of September: Beth Marmolejos

Beth Marmolejos is a business leader, activist, and advocate who strives toward serving as a champion for change daily in both her personal and professional life. Beth serves on numerous boards that support and serve women and minority communities. Some of her positions include  Madame Chair of the Passaic County Workforce Investment Board, Chair of the Passaic County Advocacy and Abilities Committee and Diversity & Inclusion Chair of the American Association of University Women – Greater Wayne Area, and President of the New Jersey Prospanica Chapter, formerly known as The National Society of Hispanics MBAs. She also currently serves as Latinas in Business’ Programs and Events Coordinator & Vice President. 

Leader of October: Maria Elena Salinas

Maria Elena Salinas is an award-winning journalist, news anchor, and author. Called the “Voice of Hispanic America” by The New York Times, Salinas is one of the most recognized Hispanic female journalists in the United States. In a career that spans nearly four decades, Salinas has interviewed world leaders and covered virtually every major national and international news event of our time. Her work has earned the top awards presented in broadcasting, including multiple Emmys, a Peabody, Gracie Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism. 

Leader of November: Maria Piastre

Maria Piastre is the President of Metallix Refining Inc. Maria came to Metallix Refining in 2006 and soon rose through the ranks in the company and in 2017, after only 12 years working in the male-dominated industry, Maria Piastre  was appointed company President, a surprising yet humbling experience. As President, Maria brings to the position a new generation of values that transcends gender and instead is based in learning and reward based on individual merit. Her story is an inspiration to Latinas everywhere that there are no limits to what we can achieve. 

Leader of December: Mariela Dabbah

Mariela Dabbah is the founder and CEO of the Red Shoe Movement (RSM), a TEDx and International speaker, award-winning, best-selling author and go-to corporate authority for Fortune 500 companies interested in inclusive cultures. Through the Red Shoe Movement, Mariela champions for gender equality and inclusion in the workplace with efforts such as the popular awareness campaign known as Red Shoe Tuesday, which invites everyone to wear their red shoes and ties to work every Tuesday to show support for women’s career advancement and success. 

Leader of January: Claudia Vazquez 

Claudia Vazquez is a bilingual and bicultural Latina Leader with over 20 years experience in the insurance and benefits industry. In her work she is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, education, and uplifting the voices of women and Hispanics in the marketplace. Currently he serves as a Director of Product Management within Prudential’s Group Insurance Customer Solutions Unit where she leads the Business Resolution Team. In addition to her work at Prudential, she also serves as a Board Trustee of BRICK – Achieve Community Charter School, which services elementary children. 

Leader of February: Maria Elena Noel-Vaeza

Maria Elena Noel-Vaeza is the Regional Director of UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean. A Uruguayan native, she holds a doctorate in Law and Social Sciences from the University of the Republic of Uruguay and a master’s degree in public policy from John Hopkins University in Washington DC. Prior to this role, Maria-Noel served as Director of the Program Division at UN Women headquarters in New York. She has also served as Political Counselor at the Uruguayan Embassy in Washington DC and delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. 

Damaris Diaz, Latina Leaders Awards

Leader of March: Damaris Diaz 

Damaris Diaz is an accomplished multicultural and bi-lingual Marketing Media Professional, broadcast correspondent, and TV personality. She appears on Univision’s national morning show, Despierta America, where she focuses on entertainment, promotional movie features, fitness, and unique human interest stories. Damaris has received two Emmy nominations and many special recognitions from diverse organizations. Throughout her career, Damaris has interviewed a long list of Hollywood stars such as Mick Jagger, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, and Rita Moreno as well as world-renowned singers/performers like Marc Anthony and Celia Cruz among others. 

2021 Small Business Champion Award 

resources for women, Wendy Garcia, Latina Leaders Awards

Wendy Garcia

Wendy Garcia is a skilled leader and champion for small businesses. Currently she serves as the Chief Diversity Officer for the Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. As Chief Diversity Officer, Wendy Garcia is responsible for increasing contracting opportunities for Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and managing the Comptroller Office’s internal supplier diversity initiative, as well as other diversity related projects across all bureaus of the agency. Wendy also leads the Comptroller’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion – a group of national, local, corporate, and government experts seeking to increase supplier diversity in the public and private sectors. 

2021 WEES

Don’t miss out on this must-attend event for all entrepreneurs, business owners, and career driven professionals. Register Today!